Natural resource management learning depends not only on effective participation of stakeholders, but also factors such as availability of quality knowledge, the processes and methods of sharing knowledge, and facilitation to create a co-learning environment. Using the case of the Moreton Bay Marine Park (MBMP), south east Queensland, Australia, this study explored how management and stakeholders interact in Marine Park Area (MPA) management planning, what meaning they give to their actions, and what issues concern them. Based on a qualitative thematic analysis of the zoning plan and in-depth semi-structured interviews with 23 stakeholders, it was evident that little co-learning practice occurred in the management and planning process for the MBMP. The plan and onsite management had little success in incorporating the diverse knowledge of local stakeholders because of poor information sharing and communication mechanisms. In addition, many other factors, such as lack of monitoring, mistrust among stakeholders, political interference and a lack of legislative requirement for comprehensive consultation significantly influenced the overall learning environment. Like many other MPAs, MBMP planning and management also suffers from data scarcity. Collaborative and participative approaches, which engender co-learning, could play a vital role in overcoming the issue of inadequate data. Active contribution could be stimulated through encouraging submissions from stakeholders or by involving them as a reference group or an expert panel. A strong monitoring and evaluation program, which involves the community/industry, would also ensure that stakeholders learn simultaneously from good outcomes and mistakes. Most importantly, stakeholders need to reflect on their lessons regarding how to go about a rezoning process and how they could engender co-learning throughout the process in any such future endeavour.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2014.